Here It Is: Denis Loubet’s Alternate Box Art for Ultima 7: The Black Gate

Ultima 7-33

After teasing us with sample images from it for the last few days, Denis Loubet has finally released — publicly, at any rate; his Patreon backers received it a while ago — his alternate box art for Ultima 7: The Black Gate in its entirety.

This is my cover to Ultima 7:The Black Gate from an alternate universe where Origin Systems decided to go with an illustrative cover rather than a flat black, high-concept, box.

Here we have the Avatar with his companions, standing in a river of blood as the Guardian pulls the strings of the Fellowship in the background. The blood, of course, represents the gruesome murders which the Avatar and his party must investigate. This is all in a grim and somber color palette to highlight the melancholy nature of the plot. The Avatar’s downcast eyes search for clues to end the bloody doings of Batlin and his zealots. (Sorry about the spoiler!)

As you can see, I’ve got The Avatar in front, Iolo with a crossbow on the right, Dupre on the left, with Jaana just behind him.

So there you have it! The Cover to Ultima 7 that never was.

It’s notable that the Guardian here looks much more like he did in Ultima 9; his facial structure (and teeth!) were markedly different in Ultima 7. Loubet also offers an explanation for the differences in the Guardian’s appearance:

You will also notice that the Guardian has ears. This is because when I did the animation of the Guardian poking his head through the screen and talking to the player, he didn’t poke his head all the way through the screen. He simply did not push his face through far enough to reveal his ears. A happy “coincidence” of this rationale is that I did not have to model the Guardian’s ears in 3D with the crappy tools I had available at the time. You’ll notice the Guardian’s face in that animation is made up of very simple shapes that overlap; This was by design. I knew I couldn’t do a realistic face at that time, so I went for simple and cartoony.

So there it is: Denis Loubet’s alternate take on the box art for Ultima 7: The Black Gate. Personally, while I do like the themes in the image above, I still prefer the all-black cover…what say you all?

2 Responses

  1. The Bandsaw Vigilante says:

    Although I mostly like Loubet’s take on the subject matter, I still prefer the final, “black” box that they ultimately ended up going with — it’s just so incredibly iconic and attention-grabbing. Maybe this is 24 years of affection talking, here, but I think they made the right choice in the end.

    • Yeah I can see how U7’s cover must have been frustrating for an artist, but the impact it had at the same can’t be understated. Just seeing the Black Box so fitting with the title, was mindblowing. DItto for Ultima VIII’s flammy pentagram really.